Falcon, Abbott pick up key support

Shuswap MLA George Abbott celebrates with leadership rival Moira Stilwell

VICTORIA – The race to replace Premier Gordon Campbell entered the home stretch Wednesday, as long-shot candidate Moira Stilwell withdrew and endorsed George Abbott for the B.C. Liberal leadership.

At the same time, rival candidate Kevin Falcon picked up two previously uncommitted cabinet ministers, Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong and Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

Falcon and Abbott have attracted the support of most of the current B.C. Liberal MLAs between them. Stilwell is the 19th MLA to endorse Abbott, and Chong and MacDiarmid bring Falcon’s caucus support to 18 MLAs.

Chong said she waited until after the failed effort to recall her as MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head before making her decision.

Falcon “is the candidate best able to continue to build on the strong coalition we have across British Columbia, and that’s really important for 2013,” Chong said, referring to the scheduled date of the next B.C. election.

MacDiarmid, a family doctor before being entering politics in 2009, said she was impressed with Falcon’s decision as health minister to introduce patient-focused funding for hospitals.

Stilwell, another doctor recruited by Campbell to run for a seat in Vancouver, said she knew when she entered the leadership race that she didn’t have the profile to win. She is supporting Abbott because she believes he can reform the health care system, but “most importantly” because he has a collaborative leadership style the B.C. Liberal Party needs.

“I believe that [Abbott] has the best chance of holding the party united and defeating the NDP in 2013,” Stilwell said.

The B.C. Liberal Party has set Feb. 26 as the date of a province-wide vote of members. The leadership candidates signed up about 50,000 new members between them, bringing the membership to nearly 90,000, party officials say.

The vote will be conducted by phone and computer link, with each of the 85 constituencies having the same influence on the result regardless of the number of voting members.

Falcon, Abbott, Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, former deputy premier Christy Clark, and former Parksville mayor Ed Mayne remain in the contest.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

New Glade ferry enters testing phase

The Glade II will be able to carry heavier loads and will use less greenhouse gases.

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Rumble In The Rockies brings live boxing back to Fernie

Local boxer, Dylan Mitchell takes first career win at home

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

Most Read